Category Archives: Alumni

Embracing the Pioneering Research Spirit of Nancy Scofield

The late Michigan Tech Pres. Emeritus Ray Smith presents a diploma to Dr. Nancy Scofield, the first female to be granted a doctoral degree at Michigan Tech, in 1977.
Nancy Scofield

Nancy Scofield was the first female to earn a doctoral degree at Michigan Tech. Dr. Scofield earned a PhD in Geology in 1977, studying copper redistribution in Portage Lake basalts. She reevaluated what was commonly believed in order to better understand the nature of the ore deposits.

Dr. Scofield passed away in 2003. The Nancy Scofield Pioneering Research Award is given annually to a graduate student whose dissertation work expands the boundaries of doctoral research in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.

Past recipients are:

Emily Gochis—a PhD candidate in geology conducting research on innovative methods to improve geoscience literacy in pre-college students through professional development with their teachers and conceiving lessons around important geological features of their local area.

Marine Foucher—recently completed her PhD in geophysics. She conducted research on the paleomagnetic history of Precambrian rock formations in the UP, Canada, and China.

Priscilla Addison—a PhD candidate in geological engineering. She is using remote sensing to study permafrost thawing and the hazards it poses to transportation assets.

“Recipients of this award embrace the pioneering research spirit of Nancy Scofield,” says John Gierke, chair of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering at Sciences. “Their research is intellectually and physically challenging, and each recipient has demonstrated a high level of independence in their work, partly out of necessity since some aspects are outside the existing expertise in the department.”

Dr. Scofield’s doctoral advisor was then assistant professor William I. Rose. Bill is now retired but remains active in the department as a research professor. Nancy was his first PhD graduate.

Professor Emeritus Gordon Scofield, former chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech from 1969 to 1981, is Nancy Scofield’s husband. Gordon and Bill have shared their memories of Nancy from her graduate studies at Michigan Tech, as well as her professional work after graduating. 

 

Nancy Scofield at work using an electron probe

From Minneapolis to Manila

Minneapolis Alumni Gathering October 2018

Dean Callahan traveled across the globe in October to experience Michigan Tech alumni where they live and work. 

Starting in Minneapolis, the host city for this year’s Society of Women Engineers annual conference, over 60 Tech alumni came together to meet and share experiences. They were joined by 15 of our students who had traveled from Houghton to attend the conference. Discussions ranged from personal career journeys to interview tips, along with a mixture of stories about snow storms and snow statues, favorite professors, pizza at the Ambo, and more—a gathering that reconnected people and forged new bonds.

With a quick change of suitcase, and much anticipation, Dean Callahan boarded her flight for Shanghai, China where she was greeted by Peipei Zhao (MBA ’09). Peipei made certain Dean Callahan got to each and every one of her connections with alumni from Shanghai and surrounding cities, including 15 different alumni working in leadership roles or as founders of companies focused on a wide range of areas—from construction to global car manufacturing, world-wide suppliers of materials, software, autonomous enterprises, and more.

An evening gathering hosted by Chao-Zhuo Chen (Mining ’89) included 11 alumni, some reconnecting and others forming new connections and all with a common bond. Dinner talk included the tradition of smelt dipping, and the experiences of buried automobiles in snowy Houghton.

The next day, Dean Callahan traveled to Hong Kong to meet with another gracious alumnus, host Michael Cheung (BSEE ‘64), retired owner and CEO, Hingyu Metalworks, Ltd.—a company he transformed from a family enterprise to a global auto supplier after earning his degree. The following morning, Callahan met with one other alumnus, Mun Cheng “Anthony” Ng  (BSCE ‘99), and she ended with a tour of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology by Victor Flores Terrazas, (BSCE ‘10), a doctoral student.

It was then off to Manila where Dean Callahan led an international accreditation team for two engineering programs in the Phillipines.

After three weeks and over 17,000 miles, Dean Callahan returned to campus, energized from all the new Michigan Tech alumni connections and new friends, and just in time for our first foot of snow!

Jin Ren, Volvo, with Dean Callahan, and Peipei Zhao

 

Jin Ren, Hejia “Helga” Pan, and Dean Callahan

 

Dean Callahan meets with Michigan Tech alumni in Shanghai

 

Dean Callahan and David Chen

 

L to R: Shichang “Chung” Ma; David Guo; Dean Callahan; and Peipei Zhao

 

Victor Flores Terrazas, BSCE ‘10 greets Dean Callahan at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

 

Chao-Zhuo “Chao” Chen and Dean Callahan

 

Dean Callahan and Anthony Ng

 


Michigan Tech Students Attend WE18, the World’s Largest Conference for Women Engineers

Michigan Tech students at WE18. Back row, left to right: Britta Jost, Natalie Green, Erica Coscarelli, Laura Schimmel, Emily Crombez, Melanie Zondag, Claire Langfoss, Noelle Eveland, Adedoyin Adedokun, Karina Eyre, Katie Buchalski. Front row: Romana Carden, Allison Dorn, Amber Ronsman, Josie Edick, Mackenzie Brunet, Lauren Sandy, Jessica Geroux, Gretchen Hein

Seventeen members of the Michigan Tech chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) went to the national conference, WE18, October 18-20 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Advisor Gretchen Hein (EF) accompanied the delegation of 13 undergraduates and four graduate students. Three students received travel scholarships: first-year chemical engineering student Josie Edick, second-year civil engineering student Amber Ronsman and Adedoyin Adedokun, a graduate student in electrical engineering. “Gaining close friendships with the other women in the Michigan Tech section was the best part about the conference for me,” Edick says. “I gained a ton of advice and insight, which made me very excited to get more involved in SWE back on campus.”

The WE18 conference was attended by more than 14,000 SWE members, both collegiate and professional, from across the nation, who enjoyed professional development breakout sessions, inspirational keynotes, a career fair and multiple opportunities for networking.

On the evening prior to the conference, the group attended a Michigan Tech alumni gathering in Minneapolis along with Dean Janet Callahan of the College of Engineering. Katie Buchalski, section president and fourth-year student majoring in environmental engineering, enjoyed the abundance of networking at the alumni gathering. “We all had something in common to talk about … Tech,” said Buchalski. “It was nice to learn what people do after college, and see how Tech forms a special bond between people and between generations.”

Michigan Tech alumna Dr. Kaitlyn Bunker received the SWE
Distinguished New Engineer Award at WE18. She earned a PhD, MS, and BS in Electrical Engineering at Michigan Tech, and is now a manager at the Rocky Island Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

The next day, at WE18, the students participated in professional development activities and presentations. Some volunteered at different events and participated in SWE-sponsored institutes. At the Celebrate SWE! Awards Banquet, Kaitlyn Bunker ’17 who earned a PhD in electrical engineering at Michigan Tech, received the SWE Distinguished New Engineer Award for “contributing valuable research and renewable energy solutions in the Caribbean, and to underserved communities; and for steadfast leadership at all levels of SWE.” Bunker is currently working at the Rocky Mountain Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

The Michigan Tech section received a Silver Collegiate SWE Mission Award, which recognizes a group that embody SWE core values.

Laura Schimmel volunteered at SWE’s outreach event for middle and high school girls, “Invent It. Build It.” Schimmel led a STEM activity for middle school girls–building “wind power plants” to lift a payload using cardboard, plastic bottles, straws, and tape. “I am taking a wind energy class at Tech right now,” says Schimmel, a fifth year double major in materials science and engineering and mechanical engineering. “I was thrilled to be able to share what I’ve learned and encourage the girls to pursue STEM in the future. There were hundreds of girls and countless creative solutions.”

Erica Coscarelli, a master’s student in environmental engineering, participated in the SWE Future Leaders (SWEFL) program. And along with Karina Eyre, Coscarelli went to the SWE Collegiate Leadership Institute (CLI), a day-long leadership development event. Both programs, led by engineers working in industry and academia, help college students gain leadership skills. “Participating in the SWE Future Leaders (SWEFL) program has been extremely beneficial for me,” Coscarelli says. “As part of the program we have monthly conference calls and complete our tasks with a buddy. At WE18 we were able to meet in person. It was great putting faces to names.”

Hein moderated a panel discussion, “Obtaining your First Academic Job/Academic Job Search”. Panelists were from a range of different types of universities and community colleges.

Michigan Tech SWE section counselor, Alumna Britta Jost joined the Michigan Tech attendees at the Celebrate SWE! Awards Banquet. Jost earned a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering 2004 and a BS in Mathematical Sciences in 2002, both at Michigan Tech, and works now as engineering project team leader at Caterpillar, Inc. 

The SWE students raised travel funds through their annual SWE “Evening with Industry” event, held each fall just before the Michigan Tech Career Fair. ArcelorMittal, Black & Veatch, and John Deere all provided support for section travel to WE 18, as well.

The best part about WE18?

“Through the SWE18 Conference I was able to secure an interview, and received an internship offer with Boeing in Washington State. If you would have told me as a freshman that I would have an offer with Boeing, I would have thought you were crazy. But being in SWE has given me the courage and experience to pursue opportunities I would have never thought possible.”
-Allison Dorn, third year student, mechanical engineering

“SWE18 exposed me greatly to American culture. I am ecstatic that I got to meet awesome women in academia and was able to interact with them both intellectually and professionally. Overall, the conference was a rewarding experience!”
-Adedsyin Adedokun, master’s student, electrical engineering

“I loved getting to know my SWE chapter, SWE alums, and other chapters. I made a lot of new friends and we bonded as a group.”
-Noelle Eveland, fourth year student, chemical engineering

“I met so many people who were excited to see our chapter at the conference because they, or someone they were friends with, went to Tech. It made me feel proud of our school.”
-Emily Cromber, master’s student, computer engineering

“Being able to listen to and be inspired by amazing women who have been in our shoes, and who have gone on to have great careers and lives.”
-Lauren Sand, fourth year student, biomedical engineering

“Being surrounded by women who support each other as we break boundaries. My passion for engineering was mirrored in every woman I met.”
-Claire Langfoss, fourth year student, biomedical engineering

“Attending the amazing career fair with over 330 companies, and the Michigan Tech Alumni event in Minneapolis, where I met and networked with tons of Huskies.”
-Romana Carden, fourth year student, engineering management

“Attending a wide variety of sessions pertaining to professional development, leadership, and career management.”
-Melanie Zondag, fourth year student, geological engineering

“Engaging with a variety of inspirational women who have broken and continue to break boundaries.”
-Jessica Geroux, fifth year student, mechanical engineering

“It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by so many powerful and knowledgeable women. From the keynote to sessions, to the career fair; the ability to grow and prepare for the professional world was extremely rewarding.”
-Amber Ronsman, second year student, civil engineering

“My favorite part was the networking. I met some awesome ‘SWEsters’ from Wyoming as well as many company recruiters and professionals in systems engineering. I know these connections will assist me in the future, and the value is priceless.”
-Natalie Green, third year student, systems engineering

“Throughout the weekend I got to meet many other women in the field, both professionals and colleagues. It expanded my horizon and helped me to make valuable connections that will last a lifetime.”
-Mackenzie Brunet, third year student, engineering management

Katie Buchalski, Michigan Tech SWE section president

Michigan Tech’s New Academy for Engineering Education Leadership Inducts its First Two Members

“Leadership and Engineering Education—Thursday, Sept. 27. I invite you to join us as we learn from and celebrate the legacy of our two inaugural inductees to the Academy for Engineering Education Leadership. All are welcome.” Janet Callahan, Dean of Engineering

All are welcome at the inaugural induction of the Academy for Engineering Education Leadership, hosted by the College of Engineering. The induction and reception will take place today, Thursday, September 27, from 3:30-5:00 p.m. in the East Reading Room of the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library.  Sarah A. Rajala, PhD, and Karl A. Smith, PhD are the new academy’s first distinguished inductees. Both are outstanding Michigan Tech alumni.

Dr. Sarah Rajala is the James L. and Katherine S. Melsa Dean of Engineering at Iowa State University and a Michigan Tech alumna. She is an internationally known leader, past president of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and past chair of the Global Engineering Deans Council. She earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech, and an MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Rice University.

Dr. Karl A. Smith is Cooperative Learning Professor in the School of Engineering Education, College of Engineering, at Purdue University. He is also the Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor and Executive Co-Director of the STEM Education Center, Technological Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Smith is a world expert in discipline-based engineering education research. He earned both a BS and an MS in Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan Tech, and a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota.

More events are offered in connection with the new Academy for Engineering Education Leadership. All events will take place this Thursday, September 27. Members of the campus community—faculty, staff and students—are all encouraged and welcome to attend.

Teaching at Tech: Breakfast Roundtable, “Learning Opportunities, Pitfalls, and Impacts on Students and the Institution,” with Dr. Karl Smith and Dr. Sarah Rajala. This event, for all who teach here on campus, takes place from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Van Pelt and Opie Library East Reading Room. No registration needed, and breakfast is included. Each will each offer short position statements and then lead an active question and answer session over breakfast. Dr. Smith’s experience as a STEM education researcher will be balanced by Dr. Rajala’s experience as an administrator with an exceptional track record. View the event. | Print the flyer.

Teaching at Tech: STEM Education Research Workshop with Dr. Karl Smith. This event will take place from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Please register online. This session is designed both for those who have some experience and those just looking to get started. Dr. Smith brings over 30 years’ experience working with faculty to redesign courses to improve student learning, with a focus on cooperative learning, problem formulation, modeling, and knowledge engineering. View the event. | Print the flyer.

Register Online

“Leadership Lessons from the Antarctic,” presented by Dr. Sarah Rajala, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Fisher 135. This event is free and open to the public. One hundred and four years ago, under the leadership of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Endurance set sail for the Antarctic. Shackleton had established a potentially history-making goal: to be the first to walk across the continent of Antarctica. Even though he never led a crew of more than twenty-seven men, and failed to reach most of the goals he set, Shackleton is still recognized as one of the world’s greatest leaders. In this presentation, Dr. Rajala will explore what made Shackleton a great leader–and how his leadership traits have influenced her own career. View the event. | Print the flyer.

More About the Inductees

Sarah Rajala
Dr. Sarah A. Rajala, Inaugural Member, Michigan Tech Academy Engineering Education Leadership.

Dr. Sarah A. Rajala consistently breaks new ground for women in engineering and serves as a role model for young women. She is passionate about diversity of thought and culture, especially as it relates to the college environment. Among her many honors, she received the national Harriett B. Rigas Award honoring outstanding female faculty from the Education Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2015. Dr. Rajala was also named National Engineer of the Year by the American Association of Engineering Societies in 2016.

In addition to serving as Iowa State’s Dean of Engineering since 2013, Dr. Rajala served as dean and department chair in the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. At North Carolina State University College of Engineering, she was associate dean for research and graduate programs and associate dean for academic affairs.

Prior to moving into administrative positions, Dr. Rajala had a distinguished career as a professor and center director. She conducted research on the analysis and process of images and image sequences and on engineering educational assessment. She has authored and co-authored more than 100 refereed papers, and made contributions to 13 books. She is a fellow of ASEE, IEEE, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Karl A. Smith
Dr. Karl A. Smith, Inaugural Member, Michigan Tech Academy Engineering Education Leadership.

Dr. Karl A. Smith has over 30 years of experience working with faculty to redesign their courses and programs to enhance student learning.

Dr. Smith adapted the cooperative learning model to engineering education, and in the past 15 years has focused on high-performance teamwork through his workshops and book, Teamwork and Project Management (McGraw-Hill Education, 2014).

His workshops on cooperative learning have helped thousands of faculty build knowledge, skills, and confidence for involving their students in more active, interactive, and cooperative learning both during class time and outside of class. The effects of the workshops are significant in terms of creating a sense of belonging and membership in a community, as well as much more engaged and deep learning.

Dr. Smith is a world expert in discipline-based engineering education research. His interests include building research and innovation capabilities in engineering education; faculty and graduate student professional development; the role of cooperation in learning and design; problem formulation, modeling, and knowledge engineering; and project and knowledge management.

He is the author of  eight books and hundreds of published articles on engineering education, cooperative learning and structured controversy, knowledge representation and expert systems, and teamwork.

For more information about the new Michigan Tech Academy for Engineering Education Leadership, contact the College of Engineering.


Engineering Alumni Activity Fall 2018

Timothy Bohrer
Timothy Bohrer

Michigan Tech alumnus Tim Bohrer was recently named to the Packaging and Processing Hall of Fame by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute. Bohrer is founder of Pac Advantage Consulting LLC. Among his accomplishments, Bohrer led the team that developed the packaging used for microwave popcorn. The story was covered in Converting Guide and in Packaging World. After finishing his undergrad work in chemical engineering at Michigan Tech University, Bohrer got his Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University.

Brendan Ruppen
Brendan Ruppen

Gosling Czubak Engineering Sciences, Inc. hired Brendan Ruppen as staff engineer in the company’s environmental department. Ruppen earned a bachelor of science degree in Geological Engineering from Michigan Technological University, where he completed a groundwater engineering project assisting a local fish hatchery with remediation of production wells.

John O. Hallquist
John O. Hallquist

Michigan Tech alumnus John O. Hallquist was featured in the article “John O. Hallquist, Ph.D., Celebrated for Innovations in Software Development,” in Benzinga. Hallquist earned his master’s and PhD in mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics from Michigan Tech.

Noah Mundt
Noah Mundt

2005 Environmental Engineering Alumnus, Noah Mundt, was honored as one of the 40 under 40 by the Phoenix Business Journal. Occupation: Senior program manager. Employer: Siemens Industry Inc. Definition of success: Balance – Creating the perfect intersection between happiness, mindfulness and helpfulness for yourself, your family, and society. Making a living doing something you enjoy, are good at and helps others.

Don Njegovan
Don Njegovan

Vancouver-based Strongbow Exploration has appointed Michigan Tech alumnus Don Njegovan to its board of directors. Njegovan is currently Osisko Mining vice president for new business development, Njegovan holds a bachelor’s of science degree in mining engineering from Michigan Tech. The story was covered by Mining Weekly.

Jeff Helminski
Jeff Helminski

Michigan Tech alumnus Jeff Helminski was featured in the article “Transparency drives results for Helminski, Auxo Investment Partners,” in MiBiz. Helminski who earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Tech, is managing partner at Auxo Investment Partners.

Jeff Thompson
Jeff Thompson

Michigan Tech mechanical engineering alumnus Jeff Thompson ’12 was featured in the article “Family ski-making business inspired by Keweenaw Peninsula,” in Crain’s Detroit Business. After graduating from Michigan Tech, Thompson joined the family business Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis in Boyne City, Michigan. Thompson is currently president of the company. Several of the company’s skis are named after locations in the Copper County including Ahmeek, Hubbell, Brockway and Medora.

Meredith Ballard LeBeau
Meredith Ballard LeBeau

Meredith Ballard LeBeau visited the White House as a representative from Calumet Electronics, one of five industry leaders chosen to represent the Association Connecting Electronics Industries, also known as IPC. Ballard LeBeau holds a BS in Biomedical Engineering, an MS in Environmental Engineering, a graduate certificate in Sustainability, and a PhD in Environmental Engineering.


Engineering Alumni Activity Summer 2018

Michigan Tech alumnus Chris James wrote the article, “How Wind and Hydro Power Plus Energy Storage Are Paving the Way to 100 Percent Renewables in Alaska,” in Renewable Energy World. James, who earned a BS in electrical engineering, is a senior firmware engineer at Maxwell Technologies.

Sean Kelley
Sean Kelley

Civil Engineering alumnus, Sean Kelley, will serve as the 2018-2019 president of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Michigan. He earned a bachelor of science in civil engineering from Michigan Technological University and an MBA from Eastern Michigan University and is a registered professional engineer in Michigan and Ohio. Read the full MITechNews story.

Michigan Tech Alumnus J. R. Richardson, of Ontonagon, was honored by the Upper Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance as the 2018 “Outstanding Conservationist.” The story was featured in Michigan Ag Connection. Richardson has served on the Michigan Natural Resources Commission since 2007. A graduate of Michigan Technological University, Richardson holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and has completed course work toward a business engineering administration degree.

Duane Rondeau
Duane Rondeau

Michigan Tech alumnus Duane Rondeau, has been promoted to executive director of sales – masonry and hardscape at Besser Co. Upon graduating with a Mechanical Engineering degree from Michigan Technological University, Rondeau joined the Besser Engineering team in 1988, later moving into sales administration and ultimately a leadership role in international sales in 2012. The story was covered in Concrete Products.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has selected Michigan Tech alumnus Paul LaFlamme as the new senior resident inspector at the Palisades nuclear power plant in South Haven, Michigan. The story was covered in PublicNow.com. LaFlamme earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin.

Michigan Tech alumnus Robert S. Middleton was the subject of the article “Broadway Announces Robert S. Middleton as its Qualified Person.” Broadway Gold Mining Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia recently named Middleton at its Qualified Person. The story was covered by several outlets including digitalproducer.com. Bob is a graduate of the Provincial Institute of Mining (Haileybury School of Mines) and Michigan Technological University (BS and MS Applied Geophysics), and he attended the University of Toronto’s PhD program in Geology.

James Morrison
James Morrison

The Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) has named Michigan Tech alumnus, Jim Morrison (CEE) co-chair of the newly formed Tunneling and Underground Systems Committee. Morrison, a vice president of COWI, has more than 35 years of civil engineering experience. His career has covered a broad spectrum of large and complex underground and heavy construction working on bridges, dams, hydroelectric generating plants, highways, deep excavations, transportation and water/sewer tunneling projects. He received both a bachelor of science and a master of science in civil engineering from Michigan Tech. The DFI is an international association of contractors, engineers, manufacturers, suppliers, academics and owners in the deep foundations industry. The membership creates a consensus voice and a common vision for continual improvement in the planning, design and construction of deep foundations and excavations.

Greg Ives
Greg Ives

Michigan Tech alumnus Greg Ives was featured in the story “U.P. native serves as crew chief for Hendrick Motorsports,” on ABC 10. Ives is a native of Bark River. He graduated from Michigan Tech in 2003 with a BS in mechanical engineering. He grew up around the sport. His dad and brother raced, and his family had a mechanic business.


Engineers on the Alumni Board of Directors

Husky Statue with people in the backgroundAlumni Engagement extends a warm welcome to the new members of the Alumni Board of Directors who begin their six-year terms July 1, 2018. This group of volunteers was elected from around the country to support the mission of “Celebrating Traditions. Creating Connections.”

The Board works with the Alumni Engagement team to develop and support programs for students and alumni.

There are eight new members, five of whom are engineers.

  1. Britta Anderson ’15 Electrical Engineering, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  2. Timothy Hartwig ’97 Environmental Engineering, Centennial, Colorado
  3. Jackie Jiran ’96 Civil Engineering, Carver, Minnesota
  4. Scott McBain ’86 Civil Engineering, Rochester Hills, Michigan
  5. Elizabeth Merz ’17 Chemical Engineering, Hudsonville, Michigan
  6. Adam Mitteer ’03 ‘17 Data Science Business Administration, Tampa, Florida
  7. Hannah (Bosseler) North ’16 App. Cognitive Sciences & Human Factors, Two Rivers, Wisconsin
  8. Andrew VanDyke ’11 Forestry, Marquette

The Board will meet on campus August 2-3 during Alumni Reunion.


Outstanding Engineering Alumni 2018

The Michigan Tech Alumni Board of Directors is proud to recognize outstanding alumni and friends with their 2018 awards program. The following engineering alumni were recognized:

  • Outstanding Service Award—Presented to alumni and friends making significant contributions to the success of the Board of Directors and/or the University. This year’s winner is Sally P. Heidtke (Pearson) ‘81 Chemical Engineering.
  • Distinguished Alumni Award—Presented to alumni who have made outstanding contributions both in their career and to Michigan Tech over a number of years. The recipients are Susan B. Kiehl (Brechting) ’83 Metallurgical Engineering and Melvin J. Visser ’59 Chemical Engineering.
Sally Heidtke
Sally Heidtke ’81
Susan Kiehl
Susan Kiehl ’83
Melvin Visser
Melvin Visser ’59

Bill Jackson ’58, Provided Lasting Impact to Michigan Tech

William Jackson
William Jackson

Michigan Tech is mourning William G. “Bill”  Jackson, who passed away peacefully March 1, 2018, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Jackson graduated from Michigan Tech in 1958 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. His generosity is a perfect example of the impact a single individual can have. Jackson made multiple transformational gifts that continue to make a lasting and dramatic positive impact on campus.

Jackson’s first gift to Tech was made in July of 1973. He and his wife, Gloria, continued supporting the University with numerous gifts over the years. These gifts supported departments and initiatives including the Annual Fund, the Class of ’58 Endowed Scholarship, the Industrial Archeology Program and the Rozsa Center.

The couple made their first major gift when they established the William and Gloria Jackson Endowed Scholarship in 1998. This provided scholarships for undergraduate students majoring in electrical engineering, with preference given to graduates of Calumet High School, which provided Jackson, who remembered his roots, with a start in life that he continued to value.

In 2006 Jackson was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Alumni Board of Director’s highest honor, for his professional achievements, for being a model of the entrepreneurial spirit, for being a champion of higher education and for bringing distinction to Michigan Technological University.

And still Jackson continued giving. Another major gift, given with his late wife Gloria in 2007, established the William and Gloria Jackson Professorship Endowed Fund which focused on bridging information technology and entrepreneurship. The gift arose from Gloria’s strong belief in the power of endowments and Bill’s strong respect and appreciation of the the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The generous gift both established and provided recruiting funds for the endowed professorship now held by Timothy Havens, associate professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science and director of the Data Sciences graduate program and ICC Center for Data Sciences.

Havens says the William and Gloria Jackson position is invaluable. “It provides funds for the Jackson Fellowship that I use to recruit exceptional graduate students. These students are able to work on higher risk/higher reward research, which is beneficial for both the student and also myself. Brian Flanagan, an accelerated master’s student, is the Jackson Fellow and is investigating how advanced data science can be used to predict maintenance in large fleets of vehicles.” This project has allowed Havens to build a new collaboration with Ford.

But Jackson wasn’t done yet. Another major gift made dramatic changes almost immediately and continues to support students and instructors. The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning, on the Van Pelt and Opie Library’s second floor, was constructed. It includes spaces and equipment for faculty training on new teaching methods and technologies including assessment, recorded lectures and the Canvas learning management system. Though novelties at the time, all now enjoy widespread, effective use in Michigan Tech classes, and more than half of Michigan Tech instructors connect with the Jackson CTL annually for training and support.

In 2013, Jackson’s gift established a secure testing center that allowed local administration of the fundamentals of engineering and other commercial exams as well as support for accommodated exams. Demand for the use of this center has grown exponentially resulting in a summer 2016 expansion (also supported by the gift). In its first fall semester, about 70 exams were administered; today, it’s not uncommon for the center to give that number in a single day, with semester totals approaching 3,000.

Jackson’s gift helped to install lecture-capture capabilities in 20 University classrooms, another trend that has continued to grow. (There are now 38). During fall 2017, more than 5,000 hours of video was reviewed by students, with captures in over 100 different sections. The Jackson gift has provided much needed technology upgrades in several university classrooms, and fully supported the creation of the 60-seat Jackson Active Learning Center in the basement of Rekhi Hall which is tailored to the blended-learning classroom model.

Jackson believed the most important impact were the opportunities his gifts created for people. In addition to providing initial full support of the testing center coordinator position, the gift has funded more than 20 blended learning and online curriculum development grants for instructors in almost all Michigan Tech departments. His gift provided the basis for an equipment loan program, and the impetus to begin a program that helps instructors learn how to teach online.

When Jackson visited campus in July, 2014 to celebrate the opening of the Center that bore his name, Director Mike Meyer was especially struck by his humility, his desire to make a lasting difference and his people focus.

“Bill brought two of his grandchildren along to the open house event,” Meyer says. “It was clear that his family was of paramount importance to him, and he wanted the kids to see the Center and understand his legacy. After a tour of both the CTL and the Testing Center his gift had created and a chance to visit with many of the instructors supported through grants, I tried to thank Jackson formally for his gift. Bill’s humble response? ‘It’s just great to have good people to put the money to work.’”

Bill Jackson and his family can rest assured Michigan Tech will continue to treasure his legacy. His transformational gifts will help students and instructors at Michigan Tech for many years to come.

By Michael Meyer, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.


Solar Farms, Not Tobacco Fields

Big Think Story HeadlineResearch by Electrical Engineering alumnus Ram Krishnan ‘16 and Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) on converting tobacco farms to solar photovoltaic farms was covered widely in the media including; Modern FarmerPopular Mechanics and the Weather Channel.

An article about Joshua Pearce’s research on replacing tobacco fields with solar arrays was recently featured in IEEE Electronics 360Popular Mechanics, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, the Fifth Estate (Australian business newspaper), Solar Thermal MagazinePV MagazineScience Daily, the Weather Channel and Big Think.

Related:

Farm Sunshine, Not Cancer: Replacing Tobacco Fields with Solar Arrays
Saving Lives and Money: The Potential of Solar to Replace Coal